Cool Morning

August 18, 2014

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The past few days have begun with early morning temperatures in the 50s, clear skies, and remarkably low humidity.  That it is the middle of August and these are the conditions is a bit unusual given what the past few summers have been like.

All is not well elsewhere, though.  Last week north of here, the town of Islip in New York received 13″ of rain.  Way west of here in California, residents in some areas are being paid to remove their lawns and thus conserve water in that drought-stricken state.  Between those coastal extremes, some farmers in North Dakota are making changes to their crops due to the impact of a changing climate-increased humidity being one of the factors.  And on the other side of the planet, torrential rains have caused flooding and mudslides in Nepal, both of which have led to the deaths of just shy of 100 people with more than an additional 100 people still missing.

Back in the United States, the Obama Administration has recognized the role climate change plays in wildfires.  John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, explains this relationship here.  Dr. Holdren points out three main climate-generated factors contributing to wildfires:  increased temperatures, decreased soil moisture, and increasing numbers of dead trees killed by heat stress and pest/pathogen infestation.  The personal, environmental, and economic impact of  “longer and more intense” fire seasons are also described.  Please give this a look.

Flooding, fire, and finally, famine.   Last year, the United Nations issued a report detailing the impact of the 2010-2012 famine in Somalia.  Drought was a major factor.  In highly industrialized, high-income nations, crop failures, floods, and property loss can be offset by governmental aid and/or insurance-providing it is available and accessible.  Even in wealthy countries, the issues of poverty and political indifference can prove to be insurmountable.  For example, it is worth noting that in post-Katrina New Orleans, many who had insurance were denied their claims as the insurance companies determined that the property loss was due to flooding from breached levees and failed sea walls, not the wind/rain damage from the hurricane.  When individuals then attempted to sue the federal government they ran into a law preventing the suing of the government for failed infrastructure.  After several years and many court battles, some homeowners did receive some relief.  In many least industrialized, low-income countries, such programs do not exist.  OXFAM identified three critical factors leading to famine and three critical responses necessary to mitigate famine, as presented here.  South Sudan is rapidly approaching a famine now.  Insufficient and/or inaccessible resources exact a terrible toll on people and is a fundamental problem facing a world with an increasingly harsh climate.  (It must also be said that Somalia and South Sudan’s climate issues have been magnified by war and overall governmental instability.  Swapping the position of the two conditions in the previous sentence will lead to the same result.)

As has been said before, weather is local-climate is global.  Locally, this window of cooler/drier temperatures is beginning to close as both the heat and humidity are due to ramp up over the next few days.  The possibility of storms have been forecast for the remainder of the week as well.  It has been quite pleasant as August and September days are usually dominated by the 3 Hs:  hazy, hot, and humid conditions.  Globally, that pattern represents more the norm than the exception.

It is best to enjoy this pattern while it lasts as these days are numbered.

Take care.

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